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It's Still A Tail
by Michael R. Bowen, M.D.
21 November 2003Wedding

However loving, faithful, and committed a homosexual couple may be, they will never be a married couple, even if you dress them up and give them rings and a marriage certificate.

President Lincoln once got into an argument with a man who insisted that if they re-framed the issue by calling it another name, there would be no disagreement.  The exasperated President is said to have replied, "Look here.  If you call a dog's tail a leg, how many legs would it have?"  "Why, five," said the man.  "Wrong," said President Lincoln.  "Four.  You can call it a leg, but it's still a tail."

There are four judges sitting on the bench in Massachusetts today who, combined, don't have the common sense President Lincoln had in his pinky finger.  The Supreme Judicial Court of the Bay state this week discovered a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. "Without the right to marry -- or, more properly, the right to choose to marry -- one is excluded from the full range of human experience and denied the full protection of the law for one's avowed commitment to an intimate and lasting human relationship," quoth the Massachusetts autocrats.


"Without the right to marry -- or, more properly the right to choose to marry -- Elizabeth Hurley, Dr. Bowen is excluded from the full range of human experience," says the Supreme Judicial Court of Dr. Bowen.

That statement has about as much relation to reality, and as much validity, as the one from the Massachusetts court.  For the fact is that some things just are what they are, and wishing will not make it any different.  Marriage is the union of a man and a woman.  Cohabiting individuals and same-sex couples may have a loving, committed, faithful relationship, and some married couples may have a hellish relationship with exploitation and unfaithfulness, but that is nothing to the point.  The latter are in a marriage, albeit a bad one, and the former are not. 

The Massachusetts court might just as well have instructed us all to consider dogs as having five legs.  But even if we complied, the reality would not change.  Take Fido to the vet for a nail trim, and he will work on four feet.  He will not then take the clippers and snip off a quarter-inch of Fido's tail.  When Fluffy forgets about the dangers of Grandma's rocking chair, the Massachusetts judges may require us to call the vet and tell him that our cat has a broken foot, but what the vet splints will still be Fluffy's tail.

Leaving aside the fact that these judges invented a right, thus usurping the prerogatives of the Legislature, the fact remains that there simply cannot be a right for a person to be something he cannot be.  I have no right to be Elizabeth Hurley's husband, however much she may wish it, any more than I have a right to be seven feet tall and all muscle.  I have been denied the right to savor the rich experience of being a black person; let's see the court change that.

What the judges said by their act was that they are not satisfied with reality, so they want us to call it something else.  But however loving, faithful, and committed a homosexual couple may be, they will never be a married couple, even if you dress them up and give them rings and a marriage certificate.  The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts may at some point order us not to call them idiots, but President Lincoln could have told them: you can call a fool Your Honor, but he's still a fool.

Michael R. Bowen practices Gastroenterology and Internal Medicine, and has a weekly column on America's Voices

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